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Outcome of a Tour of the MIT Media Lab and Dinner at the MIT Stella Room 

on February 16, 2012 as part of the 

RCC/MIT SPURS-Humphrey Fellows Collaboration 

by Program Participants from Roxbury Community College (RCC) 

Edited by: Jose A. Alicea, Ed. D. 

April 3, 2012 


The following short literary pieces by students, faculty and staff members from Roxbury 
Community College (RCC) result from a tour of the MIT Media Lab and dinner at the MIT Stella 
Room on February 16, 2012 as part of the RCC/MIT SPURS-Humphrey Collaboration. 

RCC/MIT-SPURS Collaboration 


To collaborate in a joint program to benefit students, faculty, fellows and scholars of RCC and MIT 
within the context of the city /regional planning disciplines. 


1. To expose RCC honor students to the international/global perspective within their RCC major 
through meaningful interactions with the SPURS/Humphrey Fellows. 

• RCC's Honors students gain insight into the work of the SPURS/Humphrey Fellows by 
participating in key lectures, field trips, and social engagements that would support their 
academic and professional pursuits at RCC. 

2. To expose the SPURS/Humphrey Fellows to RCC honor students' and their diverse experiences 
as American, immigrant and international students within the American higher education system. 

• SPURS/Humphrey Fellows participate in key Honors classroom activities as guest 
speakers, offer college-wide lectures, as well as provide mentorship in RCC Honors 
projects related to their field of study. The Fellows can utilize RCC students and faculty 
as resources when exploring themes related to American planning. 

3. To engender an educational environment that attempts to bridge the gap between community 
colleges and 4-yr. undergraduate/graduate institutions in order to view each other as resources 
that could further their academic initiatives. 


Guest Writer 

Eric Moskowitz, 

The Boston Globe Magazine 

Contributing Writers - Students 

Share-Leigh Arneaud-Bernard 

Venisa Dodi 

Dana Francisco Miranda 

Lee Perry 

Marvell S. Shay 

Contributing Writers - Faculty and Staff 

Jose A. Alicea, Ed. D. 
Bruce Brender 
Randy Foote 
Alfonsina Minchella 
Nasreen Latif 
Robert P. Stevens 


Jose A. Alicea, Ed. D. 

PhotoShop Graphics 

Robert P. Stevens 


10:27 A.M. 

Beyond what could be the most crowded bike rack I've ever seen, I find myself in front of the fabled MIT 
Media Lab. There are 26 research groups in this complex - which like a product of a Steve Jobs fever 
dream - each one centered on an innovative faculty member or senior research scientist and a handful of 
enterprising grad students. ... (T)he lab isn't open to the public. Turns out there's a downside to being 
considered a world class-temple of innovation: people can't help but wander in off the street. And 
sometimes they steal stuff- valuable, top-secret, mesmerizing stuff. 

10:52 A.M. 


The lab spaces, which deliberately bleed into one another to encourage collaboration, are passing by in a 
blur of Technicolor high tech. Near a display of cereal boxes and smart phone price scanners, I get to play 
with the I/O Brush, a beefy paintbrush equipped with camera and sensors. It lets children brush items in 
real life - an Elmo doll, say - and then apply their colors, patterns, and textures to a digital canvas. 

While I try not to break anything, (our guide) points out a screen that can be used for controlling a 
computer with gestures that grew out of its creator's advisory work on the movie Minority Report. Next 
to it, I see what looks like a foosball table left in the hands of Dr. Frankenstein, reengineered and 
encircled by wires and lights. 

Down the hall, we come upon a plush teddy bear concealing a sophisticated robot. Nurses have tested it 
for therapy and data collection. Want to tell whether a kid has fever? Just ask her to hug the bear. (It's 
called a Huggable, of course.) 

We reach the lab of. . .the composer of the robot opera Death and the Powers and an invention whose 
technology-assisted instruments have been used by Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Gabriel, and Prince. A grad student 
is putting the final stitches on a side project: a denim skirt with a huge built-in iPod speaker. 

Two doors down. . .another grad student is cramming for an afternoon presentation to National science 
Foundation grant writers. The Calgary native is as animated talking about the everyday miracles in his 
Kendall world as in his own work (on 3-D printing), right down to the dorm washing machine that texts 
him when his load is done. "In Canada, it's completely different in terms of technology being integrated 
around us," (he) says. Somerville, too," I tell him. 

Excerpt from 


by Eric Moskowitz 

Boston Globe Magazine , Feb. 26, 2012 







Share-Leigh JA.rneaud-'Bernard 


My 'Reflections 

(going to MlTfor the second time I thought that the experience 
wouCdbe simiCar to the one that I had encountered previously, however 
I was proven wrong as we were given a tour of their media Cab. 'Even 
though my fie Cd of study is 'BioCogicaC Science, it was Both surprising and 
interesting to see how man has developed the necessary took and 
technologies to both enhance and benefit themselves, for example: the 
prosthetics section of the Lab. furthermore, as a member of the garden 
CCub at HCC, I was curious at the way they were developing their designs 
that wouCd heCp prevent QCobaClYarming and promote energy efficiency. 

The "Occupy lYaCC Street" discussion was engaging as it aCCowedme 
to Cisten to diverse ideas andresponses to a topic that is not onCy 
internationaCCy discussed but aCso is a very fragiCe topic. Trofessor 
y/ampCer's invention of winterization tent for the Occupy Movement 
was intriguing and I wouCd have Coved to see a modeC / make of it. 

I hope that I can meet again with the MIT-STILUS feCCows to discuss 
more ways in which we can shape and deveCop our communities for the 
future. Thank you for such a great opportunity to represent my coCCege 
and student body. 

Venisa Dodi 
Political Science 
MIT Paper 

On February 16 2012, my Political Science teacher Randall Foote and a few of my classmates 
gathered at the train station for a program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 
When we got there, a young man gave us a tour of the newly built extension. He said it was built 
by the Japanese in 2009. It was also the building which contained all their latest projects. He 
showed us a section where they made prosthetic legs for people who were physically disabled. 
He said those projects were being tested on and at some point they would be taking to the 
hospitals to give to patients who needed them. 

Another section we went to was where they made all the machines for drama. He said the 
students had built machines that would perform the actions of the characters when they 
performed on stage. There was a section in which he talked about cars. He said they made cars 
which could be folded and the purpose for making those cars was to help create some space so 
that people can move freely without having to deal with traffic or crowded areas. The same 

applied to electric scooters. He said they sent the model to one of the European countries and in 
2013 it will be sold to the general public. 

Furthermore, we talked about Occupy Boston. We talked about how in Occupy Boston there was 
no leader who spoke for the whole group and so the government could not do anything about 
their request. Also the Occupy movement had many individual problems instead of speaking as a 
group. As a result it was difficult for the government to reach out to every single one of them. 
Others at the meeting argued that if it was done in a more organized fashion maybe they would 
have been heard. 

Lastly, we talked about Roxbury Community College collaborating with MIT so that the students 
can have a chance of going to a school like that. Most students have the ability to go to one of 
those Ivy League schools like MIT, but usually they see the schools as a place that is higher than 
their standards. If RCC can have workshops with MIT and other schools like that, maybe 
students at RCC would be more interested in schools like that. It will also encourage the 
teachers to work harder than they are already doing to better prepare the students for such 

Dana Francisco Miranda 

The Trip to MIT and the Occupy Movement 

The trip to MIT's Media Lab was an informative overview of the advancements and 
experimentation done not only in a wide range but also at greater and intensive levels of 
developments. Seeing in one building the cohesive development of myriad technologies 
presented succinctly the goals of MIT for effective advancement. Our guide, Praveen Subramani 
was also quite informative on all the specific research done outside his own. 

Transitioning to the Occupy Movement discussion, although late, the discussion over the motives 
of the Occupy moment and the political effectiveness of civil disobedience prompted intelligent 
discussion. My one complaint being that the actual discussion was actually quite short and the 
small group discussions were also not given enough time to analyze in depth the cause and effect 
that the Occupy Movement will have on politics worldwide, let alone American politics and the 
upcoming elections. 

Lee Perry 

Extra! Extra! Extra! 

It was such an honor to be included with a group of invited students, on this tour of one of the 
leading institutions of innovation in the world (MIT Media Lab). It was a privilege to participate. 
I thoroughly enjoyed traveling and conversing with professors, that I will either work with in the 
future, or will seek advice from on my educational journey. 

Our guide was very friendly, which was one of the primary reasons for so many smiles before 
the tour. The building is very distinctive with its mesh exterior. With all the constant activity 

within the building, some of us discussed and questioned our tour guide as to the acoustics, as we 
were impressed with the overall quiet unobtrusive environment of the structure's interior. 

Seeing all of the current projects was just inspiring; real life images that fueled my imagination. 
Many of the exhibits we saw were down to earth: the prosthetics lab, the medical diagnostic 
mirror, water laser, 3D printer, and children's ideas in fabrication of circuitry in jewelry. It was 
encouraging to see useful science coming from such a source, and observing projects in different 
stages of development, such as the urban transport vehicle, which was so exciting because it was 
covered in the local news less than three weeks before the tour! 

A good learning point for me was an understanding that no one technology is dominant. There is 
a necessity for an eclectic group of people to collaborate on solving very complex issues. 
Teamwork among the scientists and combining the sciences is the key to problem solving. My 
reaction to this inclusion with the honor students and the innovative work that I saw on display is 
to simply attempt to excel and pursue excellence! 

At the occupy symposium, I was able to present my personal observations to the panel which 
elated me. It made me proud to be able to add some substance to the discussion. Learning about 
MIT's involvement in assisting the occupy movement in technical terms was another surprise. 
We were well received; our views were welcomed, and the food was excellent. 

Events like this just motivate me to use my skills to create, and to problem-solve in my own 
community. I look forward to being involved in more events like this. It was a very worthy and 
educational activity that needs to be continued well into the future. 

Thank you for including me in this valuable experience. 

Marvell S. Shay 

What I got out of the seminar, and still thinking about is how occupy Boston was so peaceful and 
why occupy Oakland was so violent. I think the reason for this was that the City of Boston had 
the support of its mayor and Oakland didn't. But one of the things that intrigued me the most was 
the tent that MIT architecture professor Jan Wampler, who Skyped in to let us know about this 
tent and how it was to help keep the occupiers warm during the winter, but he never got the 
opportunity to do this because the Courts had ordered occupiers to leave Dewey Square. This 
was a very informative session and I hope that Roxbury Community College and M.I.T. will 
continue with this dialogue in the future. 


Jose A. Alicea, Ed. D. 
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs 
RCC/MIT Fellows Program Coordinator 
Roxbury Community College (RCC) 

Nuggets from the semester kick-off event at MIT on February 16, 2012 

• 16 RCC students and seven faculty/staff members participated. The Media Lab Tour was 
great! RCC Students and faculty where amazed at the modern designs everywhere: Tech 
clothing, ultra modern vehicle designs, robotic limbs, smart furniture, inter-active belts, 
and 3-D printers. We had both a virtual and real ball. The fabrication labs made us feel as 
in a toy land. The tour dozen, Praveen Subramani, was a grad student in the ultra-modern 
vehicle area; he was very knowledgeable and made the cascade of images, data and 
information accessible and fun. We walked and walked and talked and took many 
pictures and videos. This was a memorable event that has moved each of us to imagine. 

• Dinner was excellent! The steak tips were just like I enjoy them, marinated, medium rare 
over heavily spiced baked potato slices. The salad was fresh and abundant with a healthy 
balsamic dressing - garden cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and exotic lettuce. Roasted green 
beans with olive oil over roasted cherry tomatoes, yum. The breads were fresh and light-I 
enjoyed the rolls with walnuts, cranberries and raisins and a bit of natural butter. Drinks 
included bottled water and sodas; I drank a coke-refreshing. I was tempted by the cake 
with white icing, but I resisted. 

• The presentation on the "Occupy Wall Street Movement" was short and not as far 
reaching as I had expected. We did not delve into the reasons and issues that propelled 
and fueled the Movement, namely income inequality. We focused more on the 
organizational aspects and the global impetus of social media. Luckily, we had previous 
access to Atul Pokharel's report, which really uncovered many of the aspects of the 
Movement not presented in the media. His approach to the presentation was a 
conversation over dinner, which elicited great responses. I was particularly impressed by 
the level of analysis and cogent arguments presented by the RCC students. RCC 
professors expressed their pride in our students. First time participants actually seemed 
surprised at the RCC students' expressive abilities; they didn't surprise me or the other 
veterans; we are used to it. 

• During the break-out session into small groups, I engaged in conversation with MIT 
professors and SPURS fellows, who were more interested in what the RCC students were 
thinking. We discussed further the underlying issues at the root of the Movement and 
vowed to act locally to change economic relationships that lead to income inequality, in 
keeping with the planning tradition of analysis and action. 

• For further exploration: We need to design a joint RCC/MIT course as a stepping 
stone to the planning profession. The concept is to design seminars in Planning 101, as 
part of a Community Organizing Institute at RCC. It was noted that RCC students had no 


basic course work in research study or methods, although the required English 
Composition II class is steeped in mostly bibliographic research. 

MIT Professors Judith Tendler and Bish agreed to pursue this avenue further. A course 
that explores qualitative methods, such as interviews, surveys, observation and other 
anthropological methods would be a good start, especially if partnered with the Intro to 
Statistics class now offered. Interestingly, the Community Organizing Institute was until 
twenty years ago run by MIT Fellow Chuck Turner in Roxbury just one street behind the 
RCC campus. I graduated from this Institute and embarked upon a community organizing 
career that took me to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and on to MIT's 
Department of Urban Studies and Planning. 

Bruce Brender 
Professor, STEM, RCC 

Hello Jose: 

Thank you for the opportunity to visit the MIT Media Lab and to participate in the dinner and 
after-dinner discussion of the Occupy Wall Street movement's political impact. 

I can only second the astute comments made by many RCC students and community colleagues. 
The tour had a surreal yet practical quality to it: You could "eat your own face" by posing for a 
hologram, then having the image etched by a 3-D printer into chocolate. Practically, this has 
been applied to plastic photolithography in constructing prefabricated buildings, as well as chess 

About the robot opera others have mentioned: I can't critique it thoroughly, since my hearing is 
not what it once was, but the visuals were striking, with robots and humans following each other 
about, apparently communicating easily with each other. 

I would like to mention that our MIT graduate student guides were very helpful, patiently 
answering all our questions, and pointing out intriguing work going on in the open workstations 
and interdisciplinary areas. Their final service was to conduct us to a welcome meal. 

The tasty buffet provided RCC students and community fellows to break bread with MIT faculty, 
graduate students and fellows in a wide-ranging discussion about the significance of the Occupy 
movement in the context of the Arab Spring and subsequent revolutions; the consensus was that 
these phenomena were a hopeful turning point toward democracy. I look forward to ongoing 
meetings with progressive MIT faculty, fellows and staff. 

Thank you again. 


Reflections on RCC/MIT Collaboration 

Randy Foote 

Professor of Political Science, RCC 

Once again it was a good dinner, of course, after an excellent tour of MIT facilities. 

I brought six students from my Political Science class to the kick-off dinner which focused on 
the Occupy Movement and the Arab Awakening, both of which have been topics in my class. 
As in my other courses, I emphasize political participation and how it works both in the US and 
abroad. This discussion was very informative for the students and deepened their understanding 
of these issues. However, I think that the discussion period should have been longer, to allow for 
more depth. 

Perhaps we should forego the tour part of these dinners and focus on in depth discussions, 
whether as a part of the presentation or as a part of the break-out period after the presentation. I 
fear that we are only scratching the surface, both for RCC students and for MIT Fellows — as 
well as for our respective faculties. 

This partnership has the possibility of becoming an important adjunct to my Political Science and 
US Government courses. I envision utilizing it to an even greater degree in the future, if we can 
find a way to dig in a bit deeper. Atul Pokharel suggested for this Spring that MIT and RCC 
students could work in co-ordination with a rejuvenated Occupy Boston movement in some 
capacity. This would be worthwhile to follow up on, if Atul is still willing - and if the Occupy 
Boston movement springs back to life in a public manner. 

I believe that we are at a crossroads where we need to determine where this program needs to go, 
rather than being a one-off dinner (nice though it may be) once a semester. We need more 
follow-up, which is the responsibility of the respective faculties to pursue. 

RCC-MIT Collaboration Continues: Semester Three 

Nasreen Latif 

Professor, Social Science and Management, RCC 

It was nice to visit the MIT Media Lab, where high tech meets low tech. Likewise, there was a 
good presentation by a good company and good conversation. I look forward to organizing and 
having more SPURS/Humphrey Fellows and MIT/ SPURS faculty presentations on urban 
environmental issues and at the community service work day at RCC on April 21. 


Alfonsina Minchella 

Professor, Management Science Department, RCC 

On February 16 l I was privileged to tour the MIT Media Lab along with my RCC colleagues 
and RCC students. It was a fascinating experience and I came away with a sense of awe. I saw 
this in the faces of the students as well as we observed the various work areas where products 
were being developed that would impact our future as well as that of future generations. Praveen 
Subramani, a Research Assistant, who conducted the tour, answered questions as we walked 
around the amazing building. 

The evening continued with a sumptuous dinner where we were joined by the fellows in the 
SPUR-Humphrey program. The presentation by Atul Pokharel on his paper "The Occupy 
Movement" was excellent and so was the dialogue that followed. RCC students made comments 
and asked questions. They broke up into groups with the fellows for further discussion. We met 
various professors in the program and exchanged ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and 
better yet when I encountered some of the students the next day they were still glowing from the 

Impressions and Reflections from RCC MIT Media Lab Tour and Occupy Discussion 

Robert P. Stevens 

Adjunct Professor, Humanities, RCC 

My impressions of the RCC/MIT SPURS collaboration continue to be positive. Our most recent 
visit to the MIT campus featured a tour of the school's famed Media Lab showcasing the 
school's leadership in creative thinking and engineering. I'm sure the RCC students on the tour 
were duly impressed; I know I was. 

I was also happy to renew MIT acquaintances over dinner afterword. The program included a 
Skype call from an off-campus MIT professor who had advised Occupy Boston during its 
encampment downtown. Time constraints precluded in-depth discussion of the issues underlying 
the movement's development. Nevertheless the format was fun, the food fantastic, and I think 
the RCC participants came away with a positive impression. 

I hope the two institutions will continue to find ways to collaborate.